After protests against police violence in France, tens of thousands of officers and their supporters staged their own rally Wednesday in Paris, demanding tougher measures against violence and insecurity that have targeted their ranks.
Police, politicians and ordinary Parisians braved a mix of sun and pelting rain to protest outside France’s National Assembly.
Loren Bazan, 29, whose parents are in the military, said he wanted to show solidarity with the police — who have died just doing their daily jobs, because they were police.
Earlier this month, an officer was killed during an anti-drug operation in Nice. Another worker was killed as she entered the police station outside Paris in a suspected Islamist terrorist attack — one of several such attacks targeting French police in recent years.
Police aren’t the only ones raising alarm about growing insecurity in France. Members of France’s military community – active and retired – have published a pair of open letters recently, warning of what they allege could be a brewing civil war fueled by growing Islamism.
One officer who agreed to be interviewed but declined to give his name, said France’s police force is committed to protecting citizens but isn’t treated the way it deserves. He worries peace is unraveling in France.
The demonstration offered a counterpoint to allegations of police violence and racial profiling that have surged with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Politicians from a rainbow of parties were out in force — ahead of regional elections next month and presidential and legislative ones next year. But the welcome wasn’t always warm. Some booed French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin as he arrived.
Darmanin said he was simply there to support the officers during a difficult time. There’s nothing more normal, he added, than supporting officers in a republic.
Not everyone agreed with that sentiment. Some French experts said it was highly unusual for him to be present.
But one demonstrator, Ludovic, said he believed Darmanin came as an ordinary citizen. He said police needed more political support.
Members of France’s main opposition party, the far-right National Rally, were also present, along with leftist politicians. But the far left France Unbowed party refused to attend, saying it did not share the police demands.